If only we had a dollar for every time a new client called about a recent arrest and told us, “…and they never read me my Miranda Rights!”
We understand that when clients come to us they are desperately looking for ways to get their cases dismissed. Oftentimes, clients feel like not having had their Miranda Warnings given to them is a way to get their case dismissed. Let us spend some time on this subject for a better understanding.
Despite what is seen on television, the Miranda warnings only come into play during a custodial interrogation. If a defendant is in custody and being questioned by law enforcement, the defendant should have been told his/her rights – Miranda warnings.
The language used in a Miranda warning by police to a suspect in police custody comes from the United States Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966). Here’s a link to the case: https://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/facts-and-case-summary-miranda-v-arizona
The purpose is to put the suspect on notice that prior to answering any questions from law enforcement, the suspect has certain rights that he or she can invoke or waive. This protects an individual in custody from making self-incriminating statements instead of invoking their 5th Amendment right – “I’ll take the 5th!” It also protects an individual’s 6th Amendment right to counsel.
Typically, the warnings read are:
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. If you decide to answer questions now without a lawyer present, you have the right to stop answering at any time.
The warning is deemed adequate as long as the defendant’s rights are properly disclosed such that any waiver of those rights by the defendant is knowing, voluntary, and intelligent.
If a client is not free to leave, that is considered being in “custody.” It gets a little tricky because prior to being “detained,” police officers can freely ask investigative questions such as, “Where are you coming from?” “Where are you going?” “Do you know how fast you were going?” “How much have you had to drink tonight?”
A citizen is free to answer or free to not answer these questions, but we suggest that folks always be polite to law enforcement. Once the officer has made a decision to detain a citizen (person does not feel free to leave) then any questions asked of the citizen by law enforcement would be subject to Miranda.
So, if someone is pulled over on traffic, the person answers the investigatory questions by the officer and then the officer later chooses to detain the person upon the conclusion of their investigation, if it is a quiet patrol ride to the station and the person does not make any incriminating statements in response to law enforcement’s questioning, then Miranda does not apply. If the person chooses to volunteer self-incriminating statements, but the statements were not in response to anything the police asked the person, Miranda does not apply.
So, just because someone was arrested and never given Miranda warnings that does not mean the case will be dismissed.
This week JL Carpenter was a guest on Christopher Jordan’s podcast Dudes N Beer discussing 4th Amendment rights.
If you missed it, you can hear it through this link:
Finally, tomorrow is that Hallmark holiday – Valentine’s Day. We got nothing but love for our clients! Everyone enjoy their day and make good choices, but if things don’t go as planned, “Don’t go to jail, Call JL!”